FOCUS has put out new numbers for early May (though we still only have results for the bigger parties since they appear now to have an agreement with TA3 that embargoes the full press release until later). I do not have time to do a full post here but I’ve posted the graphs on the dashboard. The results are not particularly surprising and we cannot say much until we see the other parties, but there are a few points worth mentioning:
- First, with one exception these results are highly consistent with last month and they are generally consistent with the previous months of FOCUS polls, both in terms of levels and trends. We do not yet know how these will translate into final results (their validity for predicting the outcome is uncertain) but they seem to be measuring the same thing consistently over time (their reliability appears to be high).
- The one exception I mention above is SNS which leapt up by 2.3 points in the April poll and has now dropped by 2.5 to 6.1, the second lowest result for the party in a FOCUS poll since 2004. I had a feeling that the April number was much too high, though the Fidesz victory in Hungary and the smaller rises in other polls offered reasons for thinking there could also be some substance to the increase. Just as journalists attributed the rise to the Hungarian election, they are now attributing the fall to the SNS billboard scandal. My impression is that neither of these had a major effect and that much, though not all, of the shift was an artifact of the poll itself. In any case, this newest result is far closer to the overall trend and puts SNS quite close to the deadly 5% line. I’m still inclined to think they will cross it, but I have less reason to believe that today than I did yesterday.
- Otherwise, the trends continue:
- Smer drops a point a month, a loss it can afford in electoral terms but perhaps not in terms of government formation
- HZDS drops a third of point a month, a loss it cannot afford. The HZDS score for this month is the lowest in almost a year and since November 2009 the party has yet to see a month that did not bring stasis or decline. Of course HZDS has recovered in the past, but this is its absolute last chance. If HZDS cannot make it over the threshold in a month’s time, it is dead. (Even if it does, I suspect it will be dead as an electoral organization by winter of this year)
- SDKU stays remarkably stable around 14
- SaS rises yet again, probably well above its final results but enough (as Pavol Haulik noted this week in HN) to bring it safely into parliament. Where these voters are coming from is a question to me. Some are coming from outside last election’s voting pool (especially new voters, I suspect) and some from the SDKU/KDH field (see below) but it does seem that some are coming from Smer, which seems improbable given the two parties’ economic positions but is not as strange as it might seem to the extent that some Smer support has always come from those who sought “clean” and “new.”
- KDH falls slightly. With SDKU staying stable, there does seem to be a slight reciprocal relationship between KDH and SaS. This is not because the core voting bases are interchangeable–they are in fact quite different–but I think because KDH has often gained as the second choice of voters who shared SDKU’s positions but did not like SDKU. Those voters now have another home in SaS.
- The Hungarian parties continue to duel around 5.5% each. In FOCUS polls the parties have varied, with Most-Hid overtaking SMK-MKP in March, then falling back, and then recovering to within .3. Had one or the other of the Hungarian parties shown a commanding lead, I think we would have seen the other die or try to merge. As it is they neither party (and neither party’s voters) has any motive to do so. This is a high-risk game: if it works, there will be more Hungarian representation in Slovakia’s parliament than ever before (and very probably in government as well); if it doesn’t, the representation will be at its lowest level since the early 1990’s.
There will be more to say on this when we see the full FOCUS numbers later this week.
UPDATE: The full FOCUS numbers are in and do not show much new. FOCUS is the only firm to look closely at smaller parties but these do not get much attention from voters: the KSS and the renewed SDL together and even the residual ZRS attract only 3%, less than KSS regularly attracted only a year ago, suggesting that the Smer is losing its support not to other “left” parties but to somewhere else. It is also worth noting that despite considerable attention, and thought that it might compete with SNS, the radical anti-Roma party Our Slovakia (NS) attracts only 0.4%. (Of course people may be unwilling to admit it but I tend to doubt that NS will do much better than this.) It is also interesting to note that among the splinters of HZDS, Mikus’s New Democracy (ND) attracts 0.7% while Urbani’s AZEN, again despite a rather prominent media profile, did not receive a single preference from among the 1000 people surveyed!